Jason Humphries - SuperSport
Johannesburg - South Africa captain Graeme Smith described the inclusion of leg-spinner Imran Tahir in the Proteas’ one-day line-up as a dream come true on Tuesday.
Smith, when asked about his thoughts on having an attacking spinner in the squad, said: “It is something I have dreamt about during my captaincy.”
There is no doubt that Smith is excited by the added dimension that the 31-year-old Tahir will bring to the squad.
“Where we play Imran, and how we play him, is a crucial aspect of his management. For us to have an attacking option, especially through the middle overs, is a real asset because it is not something we have really had,” Smith told a news conference in Durban.
Tahir, with his mixture of leg-spinners, googlies, top-spinners and sliders, has the ability to confuse even the most talented of batsmen but Smith said it was vital that he learnt what made the bowler tick.
“It’s also about getting to know Imran as a person and how he works. That is always a key factor in terms of handling someone, so spending some time with him is going to be crucial.
“How we manage him going forward is also an important factor but it is a valuable asset to have someone who is a wicket-taker,” Smith explained.
England batsman Kevin Pietersen, during his brief spell with the Dolphins late last year, described his team-mate as “world class” adding that anyone who could spin the ball both ways with as much control as Tahir has is always going to be a tough proposition.
South Africa begin their five-match one-day international series against India in Durban on Wednesday and the weather conditions leading into the match make the inclusion of Tahir in South Africa’s starting XI unlikely.
Heavy rain on Monday night left the field under water, although the impressive drainage system saw a dry field on Tuesday morning.
More rain was predicted on the night before the match which could force South Africa to squeeze in an extra pace bowler with Tahir unlikely to unseat the incumbent spinner Johan Botha.
But the Proteas’ management will be keeping a close eye on Tahir’s progress during the series with an eye to the World Cup on the sub-continent next month where the expected spin-friendly conditions will suit Tahir.
The Pakistani-born Tahir has generated a lot of hype for a player who has yet to be tested in the white-hot cauldron of international cricket and Smith is loath to place too many demands on his new charge.
“I don’t want to put too much pressure and expectation on him, I just want to let him find his feet and grow in the (team) environment.
“He has proven to be very successful in county cricket (in England) and domestic cricket (in South Africa) and I would just like him to find his feet at international level,” said Smith.
“Johan has been excellent for us, he has really controlled the games well for us and to have someone like Imran in our squad, who can pick up wickets in the middle overs and change games, together with our seam attack is a wonderful asset,” he concluded.